Salivary glands

Topic Completed: 1 September 2015

Minor changes: 30 October 2020

Copyright: 2002-2020,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Embryology[TIAB] salivary glands

Sally Tanakchi, M.D.
F. Zahra Aly, M.D., Ph.D.
Page views in 2019: 1,288
Page views in 2020 to date: 1,688
Cite this page: Tanakchi S, Aly FZ. Embryology. website. Accessed December 5th, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Parotid gland primordia (anlage) arises in weeks 5 - 6 from ectoderm, followed by submandibular gland primordia in week 6 from endoderm, then sublingual gland primordia in weeks 7 - 8 from endoderm
  • Intraoral minor salivary glands (including von Ebner gland) develop during the third month from endoderm
  • Primordia develop from primitive oral cavity (stomodeum) as buds, which proliferate as cords, form terminal bulbs, develop clefts and further proliferate as branches from original cord; then the process is repeated
  • Lumens form in epithelial cords and progress to terminal bulbs; cells differentiate into various ducts and acini
  • Connective tissue diminishes with maturation
  • Parotid buds may penetrate intraparotid lymph nodes; rare with submandibular or sublingual structures
  • Secretion by the parotid glands via the parotid duct begins at about 18 weeks of gestation, while secretion by the submandibular gland begins at 16 weeks of gestation
Diagrams / tables

AFIP images
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Drawing of
the oral cavity
of a 9 week
old embryo

Microscopic (histologic) images

AFIP images
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epithelial cord
of the developing
parotid gland

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Moderately cellular,
fibrous stroma
in a 25 week old fetus

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At high magnification,
the terminal tubules
are a double layer
of epithelial cells

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